Archive for the ‘Burma (ភូមា)News’ Category
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Aung San Suu Kyi was selected Sunday to remain head of Myanmar’s main opposition party, keeping her leadership post even as the party undergoes a makeover to adjust to the country’s new democratic framework.
The Nobel laureate was named chairwoman of the National League for Democracy’s new executive board on the final day of a landmark three-day party congress attended by 894 delegates from around the country.
The congress also expanded the group’s Central Executive Committee from seven members to 15, in a revitalization and reform effort ahead of Myanmar’s 2015 general election. The party is seeking to infuse its ranks with new faces, expertise and diversity without sidelining long-standing members.
“We have to see how effectively and efficiently the new leaders can perform their duties,” said Suu Kyi, who has led the NLD since its inception in 1988. “We hope they will learn through experience.”
Suu Kyi is the sole holdover from the party’s original executive board when it was founded, but the other new members are also mostly long-serving party loyalists. A broader Central Committee of 120 members was elected by the delegates and endorsed the executive board, which was given five reserve members.
The party, which came into being as the army was crushing a mass pro-democracy uprising in 1988, won a 1990 general election that was nullified by the then-ruling military. The NLD boycotted a 2010 general election, but after a military-backed elected government took office in 2011 and instituted democratic reforms, it contested by-elections in 2012, winning 43 of 44 seats and putting Suu Kyi into parliament.
Emerging from repression that limited its actions — not least because Suu Kyi and other senior NLD members spent years under detention — Suu Kyi vowed in her opening speech Saturday to inject the party with “new blood” and decentralize decision-making.
She said the NLD would go through an experimental stage with the new leadership and should anticipate some obstacles but “not be discouraged.”
Although the 2012 by-election results showed that the NLD still has broad and deep appeal, the party faces challenges.
The army-backed ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party of President Thein Sein, besides being well-financed and enjoying the benefits of controlling the bureaucracy, has staked out a position as reformist.
It can boast of freeing the press, releasing most of the country’s political prisoners and convincing foreign nations to lift most economic sanctions they had imposed against the former military regime for its poor human rights record. It hopes that opening up Myanmar, also known as Burma, to foreign investment will kick-start a moribund economy and win it popular appeal.
On the other side of the political spectrum, the NLD’s agreement to play by parliamentary rules — in effect endorsing Thein Sein’s reform efforts — leaves an opening for more hard-core anti-military activists to win over a share of disaffected voters who prefer a quicker pace of change than now allowed under the army-dictated constitution.
Speaking to the party meeting after her selection as chairman on Sunday, Suu Kyi said that in choosing executive board members there was an effort to include women, members of ethnic minorities and younger people, in addition to members with a record of continuous party service. Four women and several ethnic minority members are on the new board.
Suu Kyi acknowledged to reporters that younger members were underrepresented on the Central Executive Committee compared to the bigger Central Committee.
“We need experienced members who know the policies, tradition and history of the party and who had been in the party for the last 25 years,” said Suu Kyi, who won the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize while under house arrest. “After some time, the younger generation will take over their place. There should be connectivity between the past, present and future.”
Suu Kyi’s colleagues expressed satisfaction with the meeting’s results.
“The new CEC and Central Committee members will enjoy the trust of the majority because we are elected democratically. I believe we will be able to carry out our work more effectively,” May Win Myint, a veteran NLD member jailed many times for her activities, said after being elected to the executive board.
Kyi Phyu Shin, a well-known film director who became an NLD member six months ago and was elected to the Central Committee, said she was “very confident that the NLD will become a tight organization, very active and competitive. The congress helps institute better democratic practices in the NLD.”
8-3-2013 YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Nearly 900 representatives from Aung San Suu Kyi’s opposition party gathered Friday in Myanmar’s main city to elect their leadership for the first time in the group’s 25-year history.
It is a sign of how far Myanmar has come with political reforms that the gathering, which runs through Sunday in Yangon, is allowed at all. It’s also a test for the National League for Democracy, which is working to transform itself from a party of one into a structurally viable political opposition in time for national elections in 2015.
NLD officials hope the first all-party congress will make the structure and operations of the party more reflective of its democratic ideals and infuse its aging ranks with youth, diversity and new expertise.
“Our party must be renewed and reformed,” said Tin Oo, 86, who helped found the NLD and is overseeing the organization of the all-party congress. “We are going to advocate for democracy, so our party must be based on democratization.”
Forged under authoritarian rule, the NLD has been, in some ways, a mirror image of the country’s ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party. Unable to convene party meetings, with its leaders often jailed and the party itself officially banned for much of its existence, the NLD could not hold elections. Leaders had to be appointed. Secret and summary decisions had to be made. And in the unforgiving narrative of repression which has long governed Myanmar there were heroes who were not to be questioned any more than the villains they fought.
“Our party was a democratic party and the party was run by people not elected but selected; individuals like myself and Aung San Suu Kyi,” said Win Tin, 83, a journalist and one of the NLD’s three surviving founders.
In November 1988, within two months of the NLD’s founding, the party’s top leadership began planning an all-party congress to elect local and national level leaders, but was only able to hold a few township elections.
“Then all of us were sent to jail and kept there for a long time,” said Win Tin.
On Friday morning, representatives from across the country stood in neat lines outside the Taw Win restaurant, waiting to be screened for entry. Above them a row of red NLD party flags, decorated with yellow fighting peacocks, fluttered in the early light. The mood was ebullient and hopeful, as people greeted old friends and colleagues.
“I am very excited to be here,” said Nan, a 46-year old from a ruby-rich area of the northern Mandalay region, who goes by one name. “This is a step in the right direction and we hope to see the NLD transforming into a more democratic structure, in line with the changes taking place in the country.”
In addition to electing leadership committees and a party chairman at the congress, the party aims to decide on a coherent policy platform this weekend. Win Tin hopes a new, younger generation of leaders who better reflect the country’s ethnic diversity will emerge.
“At least we will have picked some people capable of leadership,” he said. “We hope. We don’t know yet.”
The structure of democracy is one thing, its culture another. Most members of the NLD, like the people of Myanmar itself, understand the contours of democracy only through its absence. This lack of a developed political culture, some party members say, contributed to infighting and irregularities that marred some of the more than 17,000 local elections the party has convened since mid-2012 in preparation for the congress.
The years of repression and Suu Kyi’s unique, iconic stature — she is greeted by villagers with cries of “Long live mother!” — have also centralized decision-making, which critics say is bad for the broader project of democracy in the country and could weaken the NLD in upcoming elections.
“All the party decisions are dependent on just Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and became a burden to her,” said Yan Myo Thein, a 43-year-old former student activist and political analyst, who is not a member of the NLD. “The decisions are made only by one person and this is bad for the future of the country and the country’s reforms. If the party goes on like this, the support of the people on NLD will waver.”
These days, the tables outside the NLD’s Yangon headquarters are littered with the junk of celebrity. There are Aung San Suu Kyi mugs, key chains, postcards, posters, photos, pins, fans and even a few corporate day planners. All are for sale.
Inside, the tight, two-story space is plastered with her image — ever beautiful and poised — and that of her father, General Aung San, who is regarded as the founder of independent Myanmar.
One could be forgiven for mistaking the place a shrine, except for the general dishevelment and buzz of activity.
Some argue that the NLD needs a single, strong leader in order to tackle their formidable opponents from the ruling USDP party — men who come from the military and understand the power of hierarchy and loyalty — but others fear that the party is not currently strong enough to survive without Suu Kyi.
Phyu Phyu Thin, an HIV activist and an NLD parliamentarian, doesn’t want to speculate on a future without her.
“We pray for her good health,” she said.
UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) — UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Sunday welcomed Myanmar government’s announcement about a ceasefire in Kachin and called on both sides to “make serious efforts to create conditions for sustainable peace” in the region.
Ban said in a statement issued by his spokesman that he has been following the various reports from the ground on the implementation of the ceasefire.
Myanmar government announced Friday unilateral ceasefire with the ethnic Kachin Independence Army (KIA), saying that the government troops will stop military offensive against the area of Lakyayan starting Jan. 19 at 06:00 a.m. (local time), according to a press release of the government aired by the state TV at night.
The unilateral ceasefire was offered as security with the government force members as well as with the Myitgyina-Bahmo highway have been in place, said the release.
Ban “calls upon both sides to make serious effort to create conditions for sustained peace in Kachin through enhanced confidence building measures and political dialogue,” the statement said.
“He also calls for renewed access to vulnerable civilian populations in the area to enable the supply of humanitarian assistance to them,” the statement said.
Armed conflicts between the government troops and the KIA escalated since the beginning of this year.
The government claimed that it has negotiated with the KIA for 11 times and the last talks took place in vain on Oct. 30, 2012 with the absence of military leaders from the KIA side to discuss important issues.
The government said that after the failure of the last peace talks, the KIA stepped up attacks on government forces which in return launched air strike against the KIA in the beginning of this year at point-771 hill.
According to official death toll, 35 government troops were killed with 190 others injured in an ambush by the KIA when the government troops sent food supplies to the area of Lajayan outpost.
When Mynamar opposition activist Aung San Suu Kyi made the choice to stay under house arrest in 1989 rather than return to her family in Oxford, she made a personal sacrifice that would leave a legacy of pain within her personal life.
This is the intimate insight given by Aung San Suu Kyi: The Choice, the 2012 documentary about the dissident leader shown last night at Meta House.
Directed by German Mark Eberle and Angus McQueen from England, the film offers a rare glimpse into Suu Kyi’s personal life — and an unflinching assessment of the 21 years of consequences of her lonely choice.
The daughter of General Aung San, the man who brought independence to Myanmar in 1947, Suu Kyi studied at Oxford in the 1960s. There, she married Englishman Dr Michael Aris and had two sons.
When her mother suffered a heart attack in 1988, she was called back to Myanmar, a trip that coincided with demonstrations for democracy in Yangon. As her father’s daughter, she became the prominent figure and face of the movement.
She remained in the country and was detained as a political prisoner in 1989, after rejecting an offer by the military junta to leave and never come back.
It is at that point — when Suu Kyi chooses to stay — that Eberle and McQueen pick up the story. Through a series of interviews conducted in 2011, including one with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who praises Suu Kyi move into politics, the film-makers compile an intimate portrait of the housewife who became a national leader.
The beginning of Suu Kyi’s political activism meant a diminishing role in the lives of her children and husband.
In an extended interview, she admits her sadness, but says she doesn’t regret the decision. The emotional turmoil it caused her children, however, is evident.
In one scene from 1995, Suu Kyi is reunited with her sons. A press photographer arranges the shot: Suu Kyi hugging her son Kim and patting his head. Once it is taken, Kim flees the scene.
In an interview for The Choice in 2011, he is a different man. In his early 30s, divorced with two children of his own, he says his father did not get enough credit for raising him and his brother Alexander while their mother was away. Overwhelmed with emotion, he leaves the scene.
Kim visited his mother in Yangon in 2011. A video shot at the airport shows him urging his mother to travel and spend time with him, in front of many cameras. “Mummy… you have no excuses,” he says.
According to Eberle, the other son lives in a religious community in Chicago and doesn’t visit his mother, though he is said to phone her regularly.
Family friend and Tibetan scholar Dr Peter Carey Oxford, interviewed for the film, goes so far as to attribute the death of their father in part to the hardships he endured while separated from Suu Kyi.
Aris died from cancer in 1999. Suu Kyi didn’t come to his sick bed or his funeral – a decision he supported. If she had left the country, she could never have returned.
Political leaders tend to shy away from justifying what they do on a personal level. After all that they accomplish on the global stage, it seems irrelevant.
In The Choice, Eberle and McQueen do a remarkable job of dismantling the shroud.
What is left is a woman with a dilemma – and a family changed by the pain her choice has left behind.
To contact the reporter on this story: Julius Thiemann at firstname.lastname@example.org
YANGON, Dec. 6 (Xinhua) — Aung San Suu Kyi said Thursday that the dispute over Letpadaungtaung copper mining project in Monywa in northwestern Myanmar will be solved under the rule of law.
Suu Kyi, chairperson of investigation commission into the dispute, told a press conference at the Yangon Region parliament building that the commission will put forward recommendation which are based on the truth and in long-term interest of the nation and people.
She said that the mutual understanding is needed for best solution.
The commission will hold press briefing and release information on its findings, she added.
The members of the commission will be divided into three groups to investigate whether the copper mining project adheres to international norms and takes appropriate measures for environmental conservation, the impact of the copper mining project on social and natural environment and whether the copper mining project benefits the country, the people and future generations.
The project is being developed by a joint venture between Myanmar and Chinese companies in accordance with Myanmar’s Foreign Investment Law.
YANGON, Nov. 30 (Xinhua) — The Myanmar government Friday vowed to fight corruption effectively, warning that corruption is an unacceptable and unpardonable misconduct in building a disciplined democratic nation and affects the dignity of the nation and the people.
In a statement on anti-corruption issued on Friday, the Home Ministry said the government is rewriting a new bill to replace the existing Suppression of Corruption Act 1948 to meet the demand of the present time and international norms.
The statement invites citizens to openly complain about bribery cases to the Bureau of Special Investigation and the Head Office of the Home Ministry.
The statement pointed out that the culture of demanding for bribes in the form of cash gifts still exists in the government departments and private enterprises as well as in interaction between government staff and departments.
It called for public participation in the elimination of bribery and corruption to ensure good governance and clean government.
NEW DELHI, Nov. 13 (Xinhua) — Myanmar opposition leader and pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi Tuesday arrived in India on a tour of this country.
Suu Kyi, who was educated in India, arrived in the national capital from Myanmar and was received by Indian Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai. She is slated to meet Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday as well as Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and other top Ministers and government officials during her trip, sources said.
She will also visit the Indian Parliament, the sources added.
The 67-year-old Myanmar opposition leader, who spent the last decade under house arrest, will also visit her alma mater — Lady Sri Ram College — where she will deliver a lecture, during her tour in India. Suu Kyi graduated from the college, affiliated to Delhi University, in the 1960s when her mother was the ambassador to India.
This is Suu Kyi’s first visit to India in 40 years.
SITTWE, Myanmar (AP) — The death toll from recent ethnic violence in Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine has surpassed 100, an official said Friday, as the government warned that the strife risks harming the country’s reputation as it seeks to install democratic rule.
Rakhine state spokesman Win Myaing said 112 people had been killed in six townships in clashes that began Sunday between members of the Buddhist Rakhine and the Muslim Rohingya communities. He said 72 people were reported injured, including 10 children.
The government announced earlier that almost 2,000 homes had been burned down in the conflict.
In June, ethnic violence in the state left at least 90 people dead and destroyed more than 3,000 homes. About 75,000 have been living in refugee camps ever since.
A resident of another township, Ramree, said there also was violence there Friday morning.
“There were some clashes between the two sides in Ramree this morning,” Kyaw Win, 30, said by phone.
“Residents are very fearful of imminent attacks by the Muslim community because security presence is very little. We don’t feel safe. We want the Bengalis to be moved away from the Rakhine community,” Kyaw Win said. Rakhine prefer to use the term Bengali for Rohingya, whom they contend are not a distinct ethnic group.
Kyaw Win said that a few houses had been burned down but that no casualties were reported.
The mob violence has seen entire villages torched and has drawn calls worldwide for government intervention.
“As the international community is closely watching Myanmar’s democratic transition, such unrest could tarnish the image of the country,” said a statement from the office of President Thein Sein published Friday in the state-run Myanma Ahlin newspaper.
Thein Sein took office as an elected president last year, and has instituted economic and political liberalization after almost half a century of repressive military rule.
“The army, police and authorities in cooperation with local people will try to restore peace and stability and will take legal action against any individual or organization that is trying to instigate the unrest,” the statement warned.
The long-brewing conflict is rooted in a dispute over the Muslim residents’ origin. Although many Rohingya have lived in Myanmar for generations, they are widely denigrated as intruders who came from neighboring Bangladesh to steal scarce land.
The U.N. estimates their population in Myanmar at 800,000. But the government does not count them as one of the country’s 135 ethnic groups, and so — like neighboring Bangladesh — denies them citizenship. Human rights groups say racism also plays a role: Many Rohingya, who speak a Bengali dialect and resemble Muslim Bangladeshis, have darker skin and are heavily discriminated against.
A statement issued late Thursday by the office of U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon described the latest violence as “deeply troubling.” Ban called on Myanmar authorities “to take urgent and effective action to bring under control all cases of lawlessness.”
“The vigilante attacks, targeted threats and extremist rhetoric must be stopped,” Ban said. “If this is not done, the fabric of social order could be irreparably damaged and the reform and opening up process being currently pursued by the government is likely to be jeopardized.”
In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the U.S. was deeply concerned about the reports and urged restraint.
In a hospital in Sittwe, the state capital not yet hit by the latest round of violence, an Associated Press photographer talked to four wounded people brought in from the affected areas. Aung Moe Khaing, 25, was wounded in an arm and a leg, saying he was shot Tuesday when soldiers dispersed the crowd.
Phyu Thein Maung, 39, from Yathetaung township, said he was shot in the buttocks.
“Muslims provoked us from inside their village and challenged us from their community, guarded by soldiers,” he said. “People were very angry as they shot iron spikes at us with catapults and made abusive gestures. I was hit by a gunshot when soldiers dispersed the crowd.”
There have been concerns in the past that soldiers were failing to protect the Rohingya community, but accounts this time from Rakhine villagers suggest that Myanmar’s military may have been defending the Rohingya.
The crisis has proven a major challenge to Thein Sein’s government and to opposition leader and Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been criticized by some outsiders as failing to speak out strongly against what they see as repression of the Rohingya.
The U.N. warned Thursday that the crisis had sent a new wave of refugees to seek shelter in camps already overcrowded with 75,000 people from the June violence.
Bangladesh has put its border guards on alert, fearing a new influx of Rohingya refugees.
On Thursday, Bangladesh border guards turned away 45 Rohingya trying to enter into Bangladesh by boats, said Lt. Col. Khalequzzaman, a border commander. Local police chief Selim Mohammad Jahangir said Friday that at least another 3,000 Rohingya Muslims had been spotted on about 40 boats on the Naaf River off Bangladesh’s Tekhnaf coast.
He said the boats may try to enter Bangladesh, but “we have instructions not to let them come here.”
Bangladesh says it’s too poor to accept more refugees and feed them. Bangladesh is hosting about 30,000 Rohingya who fled Myanmar to escape government atrocities in 1991.
Associated Press writer Farid Hossain in Dhaka, Bangladesh, contributed to this report.
YANGON, Oct. 5 (Xinhua) — Myanmar main opposition leader and parliamentarian Aung San Suu Kyi arrived back in Yangon on Thursday midnight from a 20-day historic visit to the United States, bringing the improved Myanmar-U.S. relations to a new high.
The further promotion of Myanmar-U.S. relations was gained partly through efforts of Suu Kyi in the capacity of a parliamentarian which was added to the achievement made by President U Thein Sein’s trip to the U.S. winning further easing of U.S. import ban on Myanmar goods, analysts here said.
Meeting with thousands of people welcoming her return, Suu Kyi urged people to start to work hard for the country’s future in line with the government’s reform strategy.
It was Suu Kyi’s first visit to the U.S. in 24 years after she was released from house arrest and became a parliamentarian after winning April by-election.
Concluding her U.S. trip in Los Angeles, Suu Kyi called for developing Myanmar in own form of democracy unlike the U.S..
Invited by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Suu Kyi was received by President Barack Obama at the White House who expressed welcome of Myanmar’s democratic transition and the recent progress made by President U Thein Sein and Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) Party.
Suu Kyi, who is also chairperson of Committee for Rule of Law and Tranquility of the Lower House, picked up the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal award, the highest award for civilian presented by the U.S. Congress, as well as the Global Citizen Award presented by the Atlantic Council based in New York.
Praising Aung San Suu Kyi as main opposition leader and Noble Peace Laureate for the first time at the UN General Assembly in New York, U Thein Sein said, “as a Myanmar citizen, I would like to congratulate her for the honors she has received in this country (U.S.) in recognition of her efforts for democracy.”
The congressional gold medal presentation ceremony for Suu Kyi was attended by Myanmar Minister at the President’s Office U Aung Min and Myanmar Ambassador to the U.S. U Than Swe among those attendees from the U.S. side, which include Clinton, former first lady Laura Bush, U.S. House and Senate leaders.
Myanmar’s state media quoted Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Laureate, for the first time as saying that nation building task of Myanmar was made possible by the reform measures instituted by President U Thein Sein, and that the legislative body is young but rapidly maturing and the entire Myanmar people who adore the democracy value will join hands in full swing to march towards the deserved position in the modern world.
During her speech at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, Suu Kyi voiced her support of further easing of U.S. economic sanctions on Myanmar and said that Myanmar should not depend on the sanctions easing to keep the momentum of its movement for democracy.
After stay in New York where she called on then visiting President U Thein Sein and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, Suu Kyi traveled to Kentucky and Indiana and visited Yale and Harvard universities and then she attended the freedom Forum in San Francisco where she was also awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of San Francisco.
Besides, she met thousands of Myanmar residing in some U.S. cities including Washington, New York and San Francisco, calling on them to make contribution to their homeland despite their U.S. citizenship in light of reform and change in Myanmar.
In May-June, Suu Kyi paid a first visit to Thailand in 24 years and attended the World Economic Forum.
In June, she continued to pay a 17-day historic visit to five European countries — Switzerland, Norway, Britain, Ireland and France.
She collected in Oslo her Nobel Peace Prize awarded in 1991, picked up in Dublin the prize “Ambassador of Conscience” awarded by the Amnesty International, received an honorary doctorate from the Oxford University in Britain and an honorary citizen of Paris awarded by Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoehe.
Meanwhile, the United States and the European Union had all started to ease or suspend sanctions on Myanmar as the nation embarked on democratic reform and sought engagement with the world.